Among the list of new species are mouse lemurs, the world’s tiniest primates. Berthe’s mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae), discovered in 2000, is the smallest of the mouse lemurs and the smallest in the world with an average body length of 3.5 in (9 cm) and weight of around 1 ounce (30 g). It is found in the Kirindy Mitea National Park in Western Madagascar.
Two new species of lemur look so similar that it’s impossible to tell them apart without sequencing their genes.
The itsy-bitsy primates are both mouse lemurs, which are tiny, nocturnal lemurs that measure less than 11 inches (27 centimeters) from nose to tail. The newly discovered Madagascar natives have gray-brown coats and weigh only 2.5 to 3 ounces (65-85 grams).
Study researcher Rodin Rasoloarison of the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar first captured specimens of the two new species in 2003 and 2007. He weighed the animals, measured them and took small skin samples for later analysis…
… also know as peters’ or the dormouse lemur, the pygmy mouse lemur is a small (its actually the smallest) species of mouse lemur native to remote parts of western Madagascar. Once though extinct these small primates were rediscovered in the Kiridny forest in 1993. Their small size and nocturnal nature make them hard to study and it is not known if other populations exist. During the day they are usually found found sleeping either in the open or in abandoned nests of other lemurs.
A gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), which is endemic to Madagascar, shown here in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. They are some of the smallest primates, with a head and body length of just 4.7 to 5.5 inches (12 – 14 cm) and a tail length of 5.1 to 5.7 inches (13 – 14.5 cm). Their long, thin lower incisors and canines make for a great dental comb used for grooming.
The gray mouse lemur has something in common with us—and it’s not something good. Researchers trekking through the forests of western Madagascar looking for a radio-tagged female of the species (Microcebus murinus) have found a male dining on her flesh (shown above). The cause of the female’s death is a mystery, since all of her vital organs were missing.
This lemur was not previously known to eat other mammals, much less practice cannibalism. What’s more, although cannibalism has been observed in a variety of primates, including chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, several monkeys, and perhaps even gorillas, all known victims of such cannibals have been infants or juveniles. Except, that is, in humans.
Living in the rain forests of Madagascar is a newly discovered wonder of ecological diversity: A lemur that has been hiding out in the middle of about a dozen other lemur species.
The new lemur is about the size of a hamster, which makes it slightly larger than the others in the area, and it likely lives off an omnivorous diet in the trees, scientists report. It has relatively small ears and a longish tail. The little primate, which weighs in at 2 to 2.5 ounces (about 60 or 70 grams), is nocturnal and sticks to the lowland areas of the rain forest.
"We haven’t been able to collect any other data on it," study researcher Ute Radespiel of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, in Germany, told LiveScience. "We know what it looks like, but we can’t tell you much about its behaviors."
The species has been named Microcebus gerpi, after its discoverers’ research affiliation, Groupe D’Étude et de Recherché sur les Primates de Madagascar, also known as GERP. It is colloquially known as the “Gerp’s mouse lemur.”…
(read more: Live Science) (photo: Blanchard Randrianambinina)
Figuring out how brown mouse lemurs spend their time has almost been impossible, even with weekly trapping and releasing of more than 300 animals carrying an identifying microchip. Enter lice.Graduate student Sarah Zohdy of the University of Helsinki marked lice living on lemurs with dots of different colored nail polish and then recorded when and where the insects turned up on other individuals.
She was surprised to learn that the supposedly solitary lemurs often stray from their home tree, interacting quite a bit with distant neighbors, particularly during the breeding season. The lice spread only with contact between lemurs and in this study were transmitted only among males, Zohdy reported here yesterday at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. The downside? The distribution of the insects over time, she said, indicates that “just a few lemurs could be responsible for a population-wide louse-borne epidemic.”
Researchers have turned the tables in the battle of the sexes. In an attempt to figure out why female mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus)—a tiny nocturnal species native to Madagascar—mate with multiple males, scientists overfed some females from birth, causing them to plump up larger than the males.
The team assumed that the females bred with several partners because they were being sexually harassed, but even though the plus-size ladies were able to defend themselves from unwanted amorous advances, they still shacked up with multiple males every night. In fact, they had more encounters with males than did females who were unusually small, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Either a polygamouslifestyle confers some unknown evolutionary advantage for females, the team concludes, or girls really do just want to have fun.
(via: Science NOW) (photo: David Haring/Peter Arnold)
Female Lemurs Benefit From Multiple Mates, Study Suggests
by Jennifer Welsh
While it may not be as socially acceptable among humans, a female choosing to take multiple mates is a common phenomenon in the animal kingdom. But why the practice of polyandry (a female having more than one male mate at a time) is so prominent is still a mystery in most species.
Most theories predict that taking multiple mates would be risky for a female without adding benefits. However, new research finds that in gray mouse lemurs, a type of small primate from Madagascar, healthy females seek out multiple mates in the few hours of one night they are receptive to mating every year. These multiple mates must confer some kind of benefit to the females, though exactly how they benefit is unknown.
"Males get benefits from mating with multiple females, because they can impregnate multiple partners," study researcher Elise Huchard, of the German Primate Center in Göttingen, told LiveScience. "In most species, females only have a few oocytes [eggs], so mating with multiple males will not increase the number of offspring they will have."…
Recently Discovered in Madagascar: Berthe’s Mouse Lemur
Researchers discovered the mouse lemur Microcebus berthae in 2000 within the dry forests of Kirindy Mitea National Park on Madagascar’s western coast. At 3.6 inches (9.2 centimeters) in length and 1 ounce (30 grams) in weight, M. berthae is the tiniest of 15 known mouse lemur species. It’s also the smallest primate in the world, according to WWF Madagascar’s Mr. Ratsifandrihamanana.
This mouse lemur’s behavior isn’t well known, but some species of plants rely entirely on lemurs for their survival.
"One lemur species eats the seeds of a tree, digests the outer coating, and poops it out. The tree doesn’t grow unless processed like this by the lemur," Ratsifandrihamanana said.
The hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis), or hairy-eared mouse lemur, is a nocturnallemurendemic to Madagascar. It is the only member of the genusAllocebus. This species is critically endangered and the population is estimated at 100-1000 individuals. They all live a single location in the northeastern part of the country. (Wiki.)